Trainer time! It’s more than just a necessary evil when the weather is bad, it’s also a fantastic way to get the most bang for your training buck. According to Neal Henderson, owner of Apex Coaching and Consulting, “When you’re outdoors, even in time trials and racing scenarios, it’s normal to coast 10, 15, even 20 percent of the time. But when you’re on a trainer, you pretty much go non-stop the whole time.” Since I’m always crunched for training time between work and Maddie duty, the trainer is my go-to for my bike workouts.
Late last year, I got a CycleOps PowerSync trainer. This smart trainer has a built-in power meter and controllable resistance. I have the ANT+ version of the trainer, and it is compatible with platforms such as Trainer Road and Zwift. The trainer also comes in a Bluetooth version that I'm less familiar with, so I can't speak to its compatibility. I’ve tried Trainer Road and Zwift with my PowerSync trainer, but now use the CycleOps Virtual Training platform exclusively. It’s a subscription service and has been a really fantastic tool for my training. It has thousands of workouts and real world routes (some with actual street view video that moves at the pace you’re pedaling) that you can ride. And, it’s constantly adding more, because it's a crowd-sourced type platform, meaning the community of athletes can create workouts and routes to share with others.
But what I REALLY love about the Virtual Training platform is being able to create my own workouts. I take the training sessions my coach writes for me and create a workout from it. Then all I need to do is load that workout and pedal. I don't have to watch the clock to make sure I’m shifting gears to change the resistance for different intervals or sets. The workout is already set up and automatically changes for me. It's like having my coach there with me, yelling in my ear when it's time to crank the power up!
The Virtual Training platform is available for your computer and mobile devices. I create all my workouts on my computer, but use our TriPad during the actual training session. Because I have the ANT+ version of the PowerSync trainer, I had to buy an ANT+ dongle for the TriPad. The ONLY dongle that is compatible with multiple platforms is made by Wahoo. Garmin makes one, but it is ONLY compatible with Garmin’s app. The Wahoo dongle only comes in the 30-pin connector, so I had to buy the 30-pin to lightning adapter. The last, and most important, part of the trainer set-up is the music stand! I get a lot of joking comments about it, but it is perfect for our tri room. It doesn’t take up much space and it’s cheap!
The PowerSync trainer and the Virtual Training platform have really transformed my indoor biking experience and made me such a stronger biker. They both have pushed me out of my comfort zone, and because I don’t have a power meter on my bike, really allow me to measure the gains I make.
Now through September 12, 2016, CycleOps is offering 20% off their bike trainers. If you're in the market for one, or looking to upgrade to a smart trainer, you won't go wrong with one of theirs!
FYI, I am not, in any way, affiliated with CycleOps. These are just products I use and believe in.